How could any country find itself in a scenario where it suffers the consequences of having been too socialist and too capitalist at the same time? I was listening to a former Greek Prime Minister recently at a global conference and I was struck by the number of times he referred to his country as a "young democracy." The implication, of course, was that it was an immature democracy -- and suddenly it all made sense.
Most people go to Greece for beaches, ouzo and temples gleaming in the Mediterranean sun. I went for a vampire. But what I found there led me beyond pop culture images of vampires to a darker part of the human imagination. In the midst of searching for ancient ruins, an archaeological team from UBC stumbled on a cemetery from the time of the Ottoman empire. The lead researcher wanted an osteologist to study the skeletons -- especially one that might have been accused of being a vampire. There wasn't much question of not going, of course.
If no longer -- thank goodness -- the geo-political cockpit of Europe (caught between rival ideologies in the civil war era), Spain cannot be dismissed as a periphery or marginal country out of step with the European project. Spain has all the features of a highly efficient and accountable country, from its ability to produce majority governments from both the respectable left and right, its elaborate system of federalism, and its increased multicultural identity.
The irony of Germany's loss to Italy in the Euro 2012 cup will not be lost on those who have been watching the Eurozone financial crisis play out in recent weeks. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel has been steadfast in her opposition to a plan for a common debt issuance program (so-called "euro bonds"), while her electorate have turned up their collective noses to calls for additional handouts to the problem centres like Greece.
Greeks will watch the Euro 2012 soccer match between their country and Russia before going to the polls on June 17. If the Greeks lose, the country will vote to stay in the Eurozone. If they win, all bets are off. But, like football, forecasting is impossible (unless the games are rigged) which means that anything can happen. Here are three possible scenarios.
Quebec's unruly students are no different than the Greeks. Both have enjoyed free rides for years, both are being asked to pay their share of the tab and both are refusing to do so. The Greeks are going to fall behind the Romanians in living standards in short order while the students are making a fuss over a pittance. That makes the Quebec students, in a sense, even more irresponsible.
So I bet you're wondering post-G20: Is this the impending end of the world--or an opportunity for a cheap holiday in Greece next year? Even the experts can't say which way the global economy will go: If Greece quits the euro and returns to a devalued drachma, will Spain and Italy be forced to follow? Will Canada's "Little Toot" economy continue to chug along resiliently ahead of the U.S.'s sinking steamship? To help us make sense of all this, we welcomed aboard a new Huffpost contributor, EU expert Jeffrey Cimbalo. His latest post declares the G20 an abject failure. Hmm. Don't start googling discount Olympic Air tickets yet.
Canadian banks will be closing the books on the fiscal year come Halloween and no matter how this last quarter shakes out in terms of earnings, there will be at least a sigh of relief among executives that some of the intense concerns from back at the end of the third quarter (July) have dissipated.
Gaddafi wasn't even buried when pundits began speculating as to whether the tribes of Libya would be able to pull together to prosper. The answer was obvious. Of course they will have huge difficulties getting along. After all, Europe's "tribes" were still quibbling over how to handle their impecunious tribes such as the Greeks.
"Indignados" (the indignants) occupy city squares in Spain on a permanent basis, and now the Wall Street protests have taken root and will only grow in size and intensity. These protests, while poorly organized and rag-tag, will become the migraine of politics, not fatal but nagging and potentially dangerous.